King Charles ‘at the very top of Father Christmas’s good list’

King Charles III meets Santa
Santa Claus and the King get up close and personal during a visit to Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre and Christmas market - Peter Nicholls/PA

The King received some festive cheer when he met Father Christmas on Thursday afternoon and was told he was “at the very top of his good list”.

Charles was mobbed by scores of shoppers who snapped pictures on their smartphones as he made an unannounced visit to a west London shopping centre.

As he perused food and craft stalls, the King spotted Santa Claus’s grotto.

He smiled and waved before heading over for a brief chat with Father Christmas and some of his elves.

Santa - who also goes by the name of Keith Flaherty - said afterwards: “I asked The King if he was at a Sandringham this year and he said he was.

“I asked him if he had enough room for the sleigh to park and he said yes.

“I remarked that he looked very well and the King said he had ‘never felt better’.

“I told him that he was at the top of Santa’s very good list and he said: ‘Really?’ and sounded delighted.”

King Charles III and Father Christmas
King Charles III visited Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre and Christmas market today - Peter Nicholls/PA

The King is said to have responded: “Well you never know, you can try.”

Mr Flaherty, from Worthing, added: “What a lovely man he is. We really had no idea he was coming and it was such a shock that he came over to see us.”

Charles was at Ealing Broadway Market to tour its pop-up Christmas market, meet local business owners and speak to recipients of The King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Shoppers and stallholders alike try to snatch a picture of the King at the shopping mall
Shoppers and stallholders alike try to snatch a picture of the King at the shopping mall - Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

He was greeted by 30 schoolchildren from Christ The Saviour CofE Primary School singing Jingle Bells and stopped to chat to the excited youngsters.

He then toured stalls from local winners of The King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The King also stopped to chat to Kate McKenzie, running an outdoor stall for the Store Collective, which features the work of local artisans and craftspeople.

King Charles shakes hands with someone
King Charles tours the market and shopping centre - Peter Nicholls/PA

She revealed his eye had been caught by a collection of handmade felt animal decorations and that he was keen to know more about a range of jewellery made from empty bullet and bomb casings collected in Cambodia.

“He loved the idea of supporting small local artisans,” Ms McKenzie said.

“It’s something he had done himself for many years. He really is a man ahead of his time.”

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